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Now in our eighth calendar year!
PCR #356  (Vol. 8, No. 3) This edition is for the week of January 15--22, 2007.

The Tampa Film Review For January  by Nolan Canova, Chris Woods, and Terence Nuzum
The First Fanboy Summit of '07 or ED Tucker's Giant Spider Invasion  by Nolan B. Canova
"Letters From Iwo Jima"  by Mike Smith
The Top 20 Albums of 2006  by Terence Nuzum
Putzo's Top 10 Worst Moments in Fandom....The Giant Spider Invasion starring Ed Tucker....Goodbye to Yvonne De Carlo  by Andy Lalino
Whatever Gets You Through The Night....Passing On....Movie News....Awards Time....Oscar Time....Whatever Happened To...? Chapter 3: Dennis Christopher  by Mike Smith
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Oddservations by Andy Lalino

Putzo's Top 10 Worst Moments in Fandom

10. "The Phantom Menace" release (1999): After "Return of the Jedi", it was sixteen parched, grueling years until ardent "Star Wars" fans finally were able to wallow in a new film in the series...and what a vomitous, monumental catastrophic letdown! This mother of all stinkbombs elicited more groans in this seasoned Crazed Fanboy than there are hair follicles on a Wookie. I had heard it was a complete, utter disaster, but until I had the misfortune of experiencing it for myself, who knew the depths of lousyness it was capable of sinking to? What I really loved were all the dweezil-brained knumbnutz who actually stood in line for days just to see this sot swill. I'd have given a trillion dollars to see their stunned faces after the credits wrapped - they must have felt like they were given a Tabasco enema. Lucas was lucky he didn't show his face at the premiere, 'cos he would have been lynched like a child molester in a biker bar (hmm...makes me think...is this movie a form of child abuse?). It's hard as John Holmes to come out and say what the low points were in a failure of epic proportion as this 'film', but if I had a lightsaber to my throat, I'd choose: Jar Jar Binks (that goes without saying), 'Watto', the two-headed pod-race announcer (perhaps the epitome of stupidity), the awful kid who played 'anakin', and the fact that Lucas denied some of the characters were insulting to certain ethnicities and races, when they obviously were!

Sweetest Jesus, if this is what science-fiction has become, and I'm afraid it has, please use your super-powers to strike this genre from existence, as most Crazed Fanboys of right mind and good taste would prefer not to have their cherished memories be tarnished by the atrocity that was "The Phantom Menace". The fact that newer generations "have embraced the prequels" (as I have heard a commentator say) is a swift kick in the head in realizing that all hope's indeed lost.

9. Debut of "Star Trek: The Next Generation" (1986): It was the most pivotal moment in fandom history: would both Crazed Fanboys and the public-at-large accept or reject a new incarnation of a beloved franchise in a world hurling toward political correctness, CGI, a complete studio takeovers of production and exhibition, massive TV syndication, and the general distaste for anything horror, sci-fi, fantasy, and New Wave? You bet your bottom dollar they would. Ineptly figuring some new Star Trek is better than no Star Trek all, Trekkers/Trekkies gave enough of a thumbs up to this rash so that it dragged on for more seasons, continuing to haunt fans who truly knew better and stood behind the purity of the original series.

Low points: God-awful SPFX; the lamest of lame attempts to make the greasepaint-faced "Data" the new Spock (Nimoy should have sued); the ultra-boring, soap-opera plots. Did these jokers actually ever go down to a planet, or was it all a talking-heads fest in the sick bay?

Let's hold hands and hope that the almighty at the very least will spare us from any more feature films starring this worthless roster of characters.

8. The '40s: Thanks to such life-altering events as WWII, the 1940's proved to be a very mediocre decade in the world of fantastic films. Sure, there were some highlights, as Universal was still able to capitalize on their famous franchise of classic monsters, with such hits as "The Wolfman", "House of Dracula/Frankenstein", and "Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein", but the '40s remained brazenly theatrical, uninventive, stodgy and downright lazy. Theory holds that no one wanted to see horrors en masse on screen after Hitler's reign - which makes sense, I guess for those unable to separate reality from fantasy. It wasn't until George Pal's 1950 hit "Destination Moon" that fantastic cinema had some new life breathed into it, thanks this time to sci-fi.

7. "Titanic" is released (1996): Well, what can I say? We lost a really good genre director (James Cameron) just so he can make movies about sinking ships and spies who are mommies and daddies. What a fuckin' waste. What really frosts my loins is how this movie cracked the Top 100 biggest moneymakers and became the highest-grossing movie of all time(!). As a fan of fantastic cinema, those top 10 slots should be reserved for sci-fi/horror/fantasy films, and not Leonardo diCaprio movies where his arms are outstretched on the bow yelling "Wheeee!". I won't stand here and say that watching 'Titanic' is the worst way to blow three hours, especially if you're a 21-year-old girlie with unrealistic expectations of eternal romance; hell, despite how ordinary it was, it was more watchable than the very embarrassing "True Lies". But most male Crazed Fanboys should agree that Cameron's talents are best applied to sci-fi/horror/fantasy, and not overlong historical dramas that make 64-year-olds weep in their kerchiefs. At least he had the good sense to cast David Warner, Billy Zane, and the actor who played Samantha's uncle in "Bewitched" in this epoch, which will hopefully get barnacle-encrusted and go the way of Davy Jones' locker.

6. "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom" (1984)/"Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade" (1989) are released: I was getting nervous in 1983 when suffering through Steven Spielberg's "Kick the Can" episode of "Twilight Zone - The Movie", the once-master seemed to be at the very beginnings of losing the talent and magic he was so famous for with "Jaws", "Duel", "1941", "Raiders of the Lost Ark", "CE3K", and "E.T." Sure enough, the following year my fears were realized upon the release of 'Temple of Doom', a film so epic in it's disappointment that it made me immediately realize that this wondrous ride that we fanboys were on - what seemed back then an unending parade of captivating fantastic cinema - may indeed become a crashing train wreck and that these masters are capable of failure in the extreme. As a bonafide "Raiders..." fan, words cannot describe the feelings of hurt, betrayal, sadness I experienced as that young moviegoer eager to see a sequel to one of the greatest ac tion/fantasy films of all time, and have all those plausible expectations trampled on by an unkind, unfeeling bloated filmmaker. I may have opined "Phantom Menace" to be a filthrag above, but my legitimate insults can't compare to the ones I'm capable of hurling at this turdpile. Every single frame of this tepid turkey is a cockroach, and I have to say that I can't explain in my wildest dreams how other Indy fans could have embraced this spew. How on God's green earth is that possible? And if that 1984 insult wasn't enough, in '89 Spielberg and Lucas had the gall to infect us with yet another Jones film that was nearly as bad! And there's another on the way!! If I was ever given a "Raiders..." boxed set DVD featuring these two abominations, I would gleefully thrust them, with every ounce of strength I possessed, unto the pathway of an oncoming convoy of barbell-hauling Mack trucks. In '84 I made the tragic mistake of talking a group of friends into going to see "Temple...". They were ready to poke me over a spit after making them sit through this vomit pile. Low points: Oh, so obvious: 'Short Round', that excruciatingly annoying little hell-imp who I wished was shredded in the films first two seconds by whirling plane propellers; the really stupid kick-the-antidote scene; the "monkey brains"/dinner table scene. Stupid is as stupid sees.

5. Indie TV Stations get Syndicated (Late '80s - Present): Thanks to Fox, and other fledgling networks taking over channels 44 and 28, we fanboys were forced to wave ta-ta to our beloved after-school shows and movies, including: The Little Rascals, Bugs Bunny, The Three Stooges, Battle of the Planets, Gilligan's Island, Creature Feature, etc. to make way for stomach-churning reruns of 'Friends', 'King of Queens', 'Frasier', 'Survivor'...ad nauseum: TV shows for that regular guy in all of us. But, I guess there are millions of people out there who lead very, very mediocre existences who delight in this type of lemming feed that are trying to make their way to their Ordinary Worlds. Maybe someday Fox, UPN, CW and these other really lousy outfits realize that not all their viewers lack personality, cool, and are as generic as humanly possible, and would appreciate an Ed Wood film festival or horror host show once in a fucking while; that is, if they can stop playing an "Ever yone Loves Raymond" rerun for one foul minute.

4. CGI: Truly the preferred special effects choice of champion chumps, CGI has soiled the silver screen with a runny parade of pixxelizzed penguins with protruding proboscises, ogling ogres oozing odorous oratory, gloating gollums gallantly galloping while gulping, and cleverly concealed yet captivatingly cartoonish clownfish. Thank you, Lord Christ, that thus far feature films featuring this fecal cruel tool have been relegated largely to joke-bloated kiddie films. I don't think I could take eighty minutes of adult-oriented komputerized kontent konjured by kola konsuming komputer kudzus.

3. Loss of Talent: Not that we can keep hoping some of the best-known masters (Lucas, Spielberg, Carpenter, etc.) somehow emerge from their decades-long funk and deliver a satisfying genre film; somehow the optimist in me thinks it's still possible. As far back as the early '80s, our filmmaking heroes began to systematically lose their talents.

Cases in point:

  • Steven Spielberg - Starting with "Kick the Can" from "Twilight Zone - The Movie" ('83) and "Temple of Doom" ('84)
  • John Carpenter - Starting with "Starman" ('85)
  • George Lucas - Went underground after "Jedi" ('83)
  • George Miller - Starting with "Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome" ('85)
  • Paul Schrader - Went downhill after "Cat People" ('82)
  • Stephen King - Began to get watered down in the late '80s
  • James Cameron - Pretty much abandoned the genre after T2 ('91)
  • Francis Ford Copolla - Fried out
  • Martin Scorsese - Many lackluster efforts
  • John Landis - Dead-in-the-water
  • Joe Dante - Mostly lackluster recent efforts

    Trouble is, there's not a whole lot of talent on the blazing horizon. If the best we have is Quentin Tarantino, Robert Rodriguez and Eli Roth - we're in trouble. Truth be told: this bumper crop can't compare to the burgeoning one in the early '70s.

    2. Technological Advances and Big Budgets: DVD, supercomputers, pristine film stocks, plasma TV's, texture maps, render farmz. How low can you go? You get a knock on your door by your neighbor who wants you to come over and watch the latest Harry Potter movie on his HD 100" screen. If it were me, I'd politely tell him: Sorry, Charlie, I'm perfectly happy watching "Slumber Party Massacre" on my crusty old VHS machine. Many may not agree, but I do believe "advances" in technology have had a very negative effect on fantastic films over the past 20 years. Crystal-clear film stocks leave little to the imagination. CGI leaves characters and technology appearing cold and uninviting, not to mention the little guy can't afford the dazzling effects spewed forth by our fiends at ILM and Pixxar, who wouldn't dare lease their Mac whiz kidz to help a struggling filmmaker with little cash. The poor actors have to play out their roles in front of a blue screen tower while they talk t o tennis balls. I mean, what are we doing here? I know the pixxell wizards can create stupefying wonderscapes, but let's pay as much attention to plot and character as you would signing that pricey computer effects house.

    And the #1 Worst Moment in Fandom History is...

    1. 1987 - Present: There's no limit to the quantity of insults and shame that should be placed on this obnoxiously vile period of time. During the late 1980's so much damage to fandom was irreparably inflicted, that to this day we all don't know who we are, why we're here, or what to do next. Here's a little refresher:

    Horror died in the late '80s

    Sci-fi died in the late '80s

    Fantasy died in the late '80s

    In the late '80s, filmmakers even forgot how to make a good cult film

    Now a lost art. I recently read a review of the 1987 "horror" picture "Doom Asylum" on DVD Drive-In in which the reviewer lamented how the horror genre, in 1987, became a big joke that not even the filmmakers were taking seriously anymore. He listed "Doom Asylum" as a perfect example of guffaws mixed with lame attempts at fright, but I can think of other turkeys: "Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-A-Rama", "Cannibal Women in the Avocado Jungle of Death", and on and on. Somehow these geniuses managed to give even bad taste a bad name.

    Our filmmaker heroes from the '70s/early '80s were falling on their face (see above).

    TV syndicates began taking over local independent stations (see above)

    The TV Horror Host phenomenon died out by the early '90s.

    The Hollywood star machine was revving up, and had no place for the cult film or little guy. It's Tom Cruze and Julia Robertz or nothing.

    In the late '80s, the big Hollywood studios took over the exhibition circuit and pushes out the independent guy. Guess we wouldn't be seeing "Pieces" and "7 Doors of Death" anymore, not that they were makin' them like that, even in the late '80s.

    Midnight Movies vanished by the late '80s, replaced by rancid, un-fun first run films

    The general public presumably got tired of horror franchise sequels and began switching to art films, Beevis & Butt-Head, and "Look Who's Talking Too!". It wasn't until "Scream" in 1996 that the horror genre got back on it's feet after nine years of genocide. By then, however, things were too soured and contaminated.

    Sci-Fi has been in such a sorry state, with such non-events going on that Generation Why? actually embraced the "Star Wars" prequels out of sheer desperation.

    Cell/Stop Motion animation had taken a big hit and may now face extinction, thanks to those gorillas at Pixxar.

    More families are going to the theater (*groan*), once a domain of teenage and young adult males who wanted to see blood, babes, and beasts, and now have to share the local multiplex with pixxellizzed penguins and ogling ogres. 42nd Street Forever!!!

    All the great local TV pitchmen are gone, and the local commercials are as boring as ever.

    "Godzilla Week", Creature Feature, Fright Theater, and other horror/sci-fi local broadcasting has been devoured by TV syndicates, who can't stop showing reruns of "Felicity" and "Friends". On the boob tube, it's a woman's world.

    So-called "fanboys" are as quiet and complacent as ever, and too lazy not to rebel against this drek we've been suffering through for twenty long, grueling years. "God, I love Manga!"

    New Wave died in the late '80s as the posers grew up to listen to their favorite college radio station. Goodbye Men Without Hats, hello Camper Van Beethoven. Since then, we've been treated to grunge, Britney Spears, American I-dull, New Kids on the Blockhead, Justin Timberlake and other entertainers just as foul.

    Yes, since 1987, everything that Crazed Fanboys have held dear from their childhood has been blasted away like a suicide bomber, leaving scorched earth. Most play the numb, but after twenty years of total shit, I'm ready to hurl my fist in the air and proclaim, like Dee Snider, "We're Not Gonna Take It!". You probably won't join this crusade of tirade, but if I could reach one disenfranchised, disillusioned soul who's ready to tattoo Herschell Gordon Lewis to his arm, then I would have done this task well.

    Here's to another 20 years of pure lousy.

    * CLINK *

    The Giant Spider Invasion starring Ed Tucker
    Ed's spider in truck Tampa Bay-based Crazed Fanboys were treated to a semi-rare appearance of uber-fan Ed Tucker who visited the area last Saturday, with a curious creature in tow: one of the original arachnids from the classic 1975 cult film "The Giant Spider Invasion"! I arrived at Durango's (on West Shore Blvd.) late, but was able to meet up with fellow fanboys Will Moriaty, Chris Woods, Lonnie Dohlen, Simon Lynx, Terence Nuzum, and of course the bearded beholder himself. It was good to see everyone as we chatted up a storm about indie filmmaking, recent DVD releases, and other topics related to the fantastic. Soon after I arrived however, the decision came down to retire from Durango's and caravan east to the Green Iguana Bar & Grill. Unfortunately most of the group had to split, but Ed offered everyone a precious glimpse of that famous eight-legged artifact nested in his pickup.

    The giant spider didn't disappoint. To have the complete honor of actually touching a relic from a movie whose poster I used to drool over on the back page of Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine was an intense experience. The "black fur" of the spider was in surprisingly good condition, when one considers the piece is 32 years old! Ed Tucker and friend! The spider's "legs" were detached, but were warmly nestled beneath its belly. Just a dash of imagination's required to envision the spider in all its assembled glory once Ed has the chance to reconstruct it, which I'm sure he'll do to strict specifications. Though it wasn't the spider that famously shrouded the VW bug, as legends of the movie have foretold, it was still a giddy thrill to be in the presence of a prop that weathered time and space, and came shining through as crisp and clear as the great memories the movie beheld for all of us Monster Kids.

    After the spider-viewing, we said our goodbyes, and Nolan, Ed, Will and myself trekked to the Green Iguana, where the Crazed Fanboy elder council met for more drinks and fandom conversation. The topics were rich and frothy: Dr. Paul Bearer, Creature Feature, bygone Florida tourist traps, cult cinema, et al. Many thanks to Ed for dropping by, and Nolan for the gracious invite.

    Goodbye to Yvonne De Carlo
    Though Mike Smith summed it up adequately in last week's Mike's Rant, I'd like to say farewell to a woman who brought much joy to countless Crazed Fanboys: Yvonne De Carlo. She will always be Lilly Munster to us, and bestowed we kids with hours of laughs and good memories. I recall when researching movies for the Dr. Paul Bearer database, I bumped in to an article in the St. Petersburg times about De Carlo's visit to the bay area, back in the mid '70s. She was a great lady and actress, who will be very missed.

    "Oddservations" is ©2007 by Andy Lalino.  The Oddservations banner is a creation of Andy Lalino. All other graphics are creations of Nolan B. Canova.  All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2007 by Nolan B. Canova.